This 10 point program was put out by Hostos Students for Open Admissions and the Hostos Student Government in Spring 1998. Contact information is at the end of the document.
An Open Admissions Program For a Democratic City University
1. Defend and Extend Open Admissions
Open Admissions has guaranteed that every New Yorker with a high school diploma or G.E.D. can attend a college in the City University. A victory of the Civil Rights Movement, Open Admissions meant working people, the poor, people of color, and immigrants whose segregated, inferior public education may have failed to adequately prepare them for college-level work would not be denied the chance for a decent education a second time by being denied access to college.
Since Open Admissions was won in 1970, more than 450,000 students have earned their degrees from CUNY. Since 1970, more people of color have graduated from CUNY than have graduated from any other institution in the history of this country. Open Admissions has been one of the most significant democratic educational achievements in this country since Reconstruction.
2. Stop the Plans to Stratify CUNY by Race and Class
Because the city_s public school system reflects and reinforces racial and class inequalities, any plan to establish a few elite colleges with descending tiers to a non-college immersion basement is inherently racist. Community colleges should not be used as a remedial dumping grounds. Open the senior colleges to students who are prepared for college work, but may need some remedial work. No non-college “institutes.” CUNY must be a public university responsive to the communities it was created to serve.
3. Full Academic Support for Incoming Students
Integrate developmental (“remedial”) programs into the regular CUNY instructional program. No warehousing of ESL students and students of color in low-budget, non-college institutes. Students should earn college credit when they can do college work, including credit for language learning.
No time limits. Graduation rates based on two years and four years are not meaningful for CUNY students. Students, not CUNY, the Trustees, or the Mayor should decide how long to attend college. No tests designed to enforce artificial time constraints. Reconstitute and enhance programs such as SEEK and College Freshman Immersion. Open Admissions requires a commitment to retain CUNY students.
No “deferred admissions.” The Mayor, the Manhattan Institute, the Trustees, and the CUNY administration are arguing over whether developmental instruction should be turned over to private contractors or run by the CUNY administration as non-college language immersion institutes staffed by non-union, adult education instructors paid only half as much as adjuncts. In either case, removal of students from college instruction and college campuses and college courses and college credit into such institutes eliminates the democratic content of Open Admissions and violates the mission of CUNY to educate “the whole people.” Unionize all instructional staff including Research Foundation and continuing education instructors with union wages and full union benefits.
4. Full Financial Support for Full and Part-time Students
CUNY should be tuition-free as it was for more than a century when the student body was almost entirely white. A stipend should be available to students who continue their education in the university. As a first step, use the current budget surplus to roll back tuition. Make available full tuition assistance programs, and more financial support for part-time students. Use all tuition money paid by students in developmental classes to finance improved developmental programs.
In recent years, the politicians, their hand-picked appointees on the Board of Trustees, and the CUNY administration have made it more difficult for all but the affluent to attend CUNY. The CUNY education is now one of the most expensive among public universities nationwide. As tuition has increased, tuition assistance programs have been drastically reduced. More students are forced to chose between dropping out completely or attending part-time. Financial difficulty is the leading cause of students leaving CUNY. No student should be forced out of CUNY because of inability to pay CUNY_s exorbitant tuition. Education is a democratic right, not a privilege reserved for the affluent.
5. Full Support for Public Assistance Recipients
End workfare as we know it. New, union-busting, punitive workfare regulations are driving students receiving public assistance from public education programs. Education, particularly college education, not dead-end forced-labor, can help people to rise out of poverty.
6. More Full-time Quality Instruction
Improve the ratio of full-time instructors to adjuncts. Major cuts in CUNY_s operating budget have reduced full-time faculty by 50% and increased the number of part-time, low paid adjuncts to nearly 60% of the teaching staff. This is far above the national average of 40%. CUNY adjuncts are not paid for office hours_or even given office space. Immediately convert 2.300 adjuncts to teaching positions in order to raise the CUNY level to the standard of the national average for public colleges.
7. Democratic Election of CUNY Trustees
Students, faculty, and the people of New York should control CUNY. The current board is dominated by Wall Street millionaires who want tax-cuts for the rich through budget-cuts for the rest of New York.
8. Appropriate Assessment of CUNY Students
No racist tests or phony standards to exclude students and downsize CUNY. Last May the Trustees demanded that passing the infamous CUNY Writing Assessment Test be a requirement of graduation from all of the community colleges. This test has been widely discredited for its bias against ESL, African-American, and Caribbean-born students, and for its failure to measure basic writing proficiency or predict college success. Restore faculty judgment and academic integrity to the placement and assessment process. No testing procedure is acceptable that disproportionately excludes people of color and has, itself, failed every test of validity and fairness.
9. Improve Public School Education.
Underprepared students reflect the failure of the public school system. We need better schools, K-12, not more tests to exclude students from college.
10. Celebrate Open Admissions
Let April 22, 1998 be proclaimed Open Admissions day and celebrated throughout the city with political demonstrations and other acts of resistance and mobilization.
We will join with people of the communities who depend on CUNY: high school students, labor organizations, civil rights organizations, welfare rights organizations, religious groups, CUNY students, full time faculty, adjuncts, adult education instructors, students and staff to fight to defend and extend Open Admissions.
Hostos Students for Open Admissions
Hostos Student Government
Committee to Defend Open Admissions
For More information call Students for Open Admissions 718 518 4350.